SNP has achieved ‘diddly squat’ at Westminster since 2015 landslide victory, claims Alba MP – Daily Record

Sturgeon’s dismal domestic record has derailed the SNP’s train of separatism – City AM

Poll: Majority of Scots opposed to second independence referendum in 2023 – Holyrood Magazine

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Just over a third of voters are in favour of a second independence referendum within the next two years, a poll has found.

The Survation poll carried out for the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found only 38 per cent of those surveyed want a second vote during the timetable set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Just over half (52 per cent) said there should not be a referendum in the next two years, while 10 per cent said they didn’t know.

Setting out the Scottish Government’s programme for government on Tuesday, Sturgeon said she had instructed civil servants to begin work on a “detailed prospectus” for independence, with the aim of holding a second vote – nine years since the last – by the end of 2023.

The Survation poll also found that 57 per cent of people in Scotland would vote to “remain” part of the United Kingdom in a referendum – with only 43 per cent in favour of “leaving” the UK.

Among those who voted SNP in the 2021 Holyrood election, 20 per cent would vote to remain part of the UK, and 24 per cent do not believe there should be a referendum on independence within the next two years.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This poll confirms that Nicola Sturgeon is out of touch with the people of Scotland.

“A majority of voters oppose her plans for a divisive second referendum within the next two years, and she should listen to what people are telling her.

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Nicola Sturgeon is SNP’s worst leader in 30 years, claims councillor as he quits to join Alex Salmond’s Alba Party – Daily Record

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Alex Salmond faces leadership challenge at first Alba party conference – Daily Record

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‘There’s just hatred’: SNP and Alba clash over commitment to Scottish independence – Aberdeen Evening Express

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Independent Scotland as far away as ever – The Irish Times

The election of another pro-independence majority in the Scottish parliament underlines the degree to which Brexit has imperilled the unity of the United Kingdom.

However, despite the victory of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and their pro-independence allies, the route to separation from the UK remains strewn with legal, political and economic obstacles that, counterintuitively, Brexit has made more difficult to overcome.

Legally, it is clear that the question of Scottish independence is a matter for the UK parliament. The 2014 independence referendum happened only because Westminster agreed to give a one-off power to the Scottish parliament to hold a vote. This power lapsed once the vote was held.

British prime minister Boris Johnson has made it clear that he will not agree to hold a further referendum any time soon and first minister of Scotland and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out following the Catalan example of an illegal vote. While this means that Scotland will not see equivalents of the dramatic and troubling events in Catalonia such as the imposition of lengthy prison sentences on leaders of Catalan pro-independence political parties, this does not mean that the UK authorities can put off the issue of independence indefinitely.

Unlike Spain the UK has accepted the principle that Scotland can become an independent state. If pro-independence forces win election after election, it will eventually become untenable to refuse a second vote.

Consultative referendum

Even in the short term, while it is clear the UK parliament has exclusive jurisdiction over the legal issue of independence, the Scottish government has other options. One such option would be to hold organise a consultative referendum that could generate a political, if not a legal, mandate for independence that would be hard to resist. Whether organising such a vote is within the powers of the Scottish parliament is unclear and is likely to be hotly contested before the UK supreme court.

Scottish voters may not have expected that their 62 per cent remain vote would stop the Brexit process altogether

That said, even if such a vote goes ahead, the obstacles in the way of independence remain considerable. Pro-union parties which together still command about 50 per cent of the vote may refuse to participate.

Furthermore, Brexit itself may complicate the task of gaining a majority vote in favour of independence. This is somewhat counterintuitive. On one level Brexit makes the case for independence easier.

Scottish voters may not have expected that their 62 per cent remain vote would stop the Brexit process altogether. But they could reasonably have thought that, in a state based on union between different nations, some account would be taken of the wishes of their nation and a moderate form of Brexit would be pursued.

Instead, the Johnson government gave no weight to Scottish desires and pursued a hard Brexit, thus increasing feelings of alienation in Scotland and thereby fuelling demand for a second referendum.

However, this hard Brexit may also make winning that referendum more difficult for the pro-independence side. With Johnson’s hard Brexit in place, if Scotland leaves the UK and joins the European Union there will be a hard economic border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The requirements of EU law mean that leaving the UK and joining the would be very disruptive economically, at least in the medium term

Scotland’s economy is very closely tied to the UK. Scotland exports more than three times as much to the rest of the UK as to the EU. This means that independence would result in an enormous economic hit, even before one considers the very considerable difference between level of public spending in Scotland and the tax raised there which is currently bridged by funding from the rest of the UK.

EU single market

This has caused some pro-independence figures to morph into Scottish versions of the Brexiteers who insisted that the UK could ‘have its cake and eat it’ by having the freedom to set their own rules and have full access to the EU single market.

The significant obstacles now faced by UK businesses exporting to the EU reveals this ‘cakeist’ approach to be a fantasy. It is equally fanciful to suggest that Scotland could leave the UK, join the EU and still have unfettered access to the UK market. As an EU member Scotland would be required to police the EU customs border and to check ensure goods and services from the EU comply with the requirements of EU law.

In 1973, Ireland was too economically dependent on the UK to have joined the EEC on its own. Fifty years of membership loosened economic ties so that when Brexit came it made both economic and emotional sense for Ireland to choose its links to the EU over its links to the UK.

Scotland in 2021 is not in that position. The Scottish economy is heavily dependent on the UK. While Brexit has fuelled the emotional case for independence the requirements of EU law mean that leaving the UK and joining the would be very disruptive economically, at least in the medium term.

That said, nationhood and independence are not all about money. Most people in Algeria in the 1960s or Ireland in the 1920s did not care that independence might have an economic cost, they wanted to be free and, as Robert Emmet said, to take their place among the nations of the world. Given the very different history of Scotland’s membership of the UK, whether the Scottish people have a similar determination remains to be seen.

Indyref2 already slipping off political agenda, says Salmond – STV News

Scotland may never get the chance to have a second referendum if the issue of independence is allowed to “slip off the political agenda”, Alba Party leader Alex Salmond has warned.

The former first minister, whose new party failed to win any seats in this month’s Scottish election, said politicians at Holyrood should be “forcing the issue”.

With the new Scottish Parliament having a majority of MSPs who support independence, he insisted the country had “never been stronger in political terms”.

In contrast, he said the position at Westminster had “never been weaker”.

His comments came in a message to Alba’s 5,500-plus members – with the party claiming new recruits have increased by 10% since the May 6 election.

It has already pledged to stand candidates in the 2022 council elections in Scotland, with the former SNP leader saying: “Local government is an area that we are going to be concentrating a great deal of attention.”

However, he claimed that just two weeks on from the Holyrood vote, the “constitutional issue is already gradually slipping off the political agenda”.

Mr Salmond insisted: “Independence should be right up there, first and foremost, in terms of dealing with the pandemic, in terms of recovery and economic recovery from it.

“We should be talking about the constitutional question in Scotland, we should be forcing the issue because London has never been weaker and Scotland has never been stronger in political terms.

“But if we allow it to slip off the political agenda to allow the (Boris) Johnson Government to regain its political balance, then the chance may be missed, and may never come again.

“An absolute majority of the Scottish electorate, two weeks ago in the Scottish elections, voted for parties committed to Scottish independence, a mandate that is unarguable but one that has to be used because mandates that are not used can sometimes be lost.”